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Afghan vets lean on each other's 'emotional honesty' in construction company run by ex-soldiers

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Afghan vets lean on each other's 'emotional honesty' in construction company run by ex-soldiers

Post by Guest on Wed 06 Sep 2017, 07:15

Afghan vets lean on each other's 'emotional honesty' in construction company run by ex-soldiers

"A lot of the macho BS is gone," veteran says of construction firm that helps soldiers return to civilian life

By Chris Glover, CBC News Posted: Sep 06, 2017 6:05 AM ET

Matt Austin, founder of Legion Construction Inc., is proud that his company is 'veteran-led, soldier-run.' (CBC)

A Toronto-area construction company is trying to make the return to civilian life easier for soldiers coming back from the battlefields of Kandahar.

"There are a lot of soldiers that were looking for help, that didn't know what the next steps were going to be in their lives for transition and there was a bit of a void," Afghanistan veteran Matt Austin told CBC Toronto.

Austin served in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces in 2006 and again in 2008.

In 2016, he started Legion Construction Inc. a company that employs Afghanistan veterans almost exclusively, after noticing a lack of companies actively recruiting former soldiers, he said.

"There's immediate bonding that occurs between the members; you just understand each other, you get along with each other," Austin said.

"And for some of the guys who are with us we have in the past lived and slept and ate together in the field in the most ... stressful situations. So that kind of camaraderie. you just don't find a stronger family," he said of his team.

The massive arrival boards at Pearson Airport were installed recently by Legion Construction Inc., which is made up almost exclusively of Canadian Forces veterans from Afghanistan. (CBC)

Legion recently installed the 90-kilogram arrival screens at Pearson International Airport's Terminal 1. They have also worked on installation projects at Roy Thomson Hall and Union Station.

'A lot of the macho BS is gone'

Sometimes they only have four to five hour windows of time to work on projects, so speed and attention to detail are critical. Austin said he runs his company like an operation on the battlefield.

"Absolutely, just like an operation and all these soldiers were trained to run an operation to know how to do proper time assessments and to appreciate the time properly," he said. "They are such dedicated and loyal members they pay great attention to safety and quality of their installations."

The construction company recruits through its website, but also by "word of mouth through the barracks," Austin said.

Legion seemed like the perfect fit for John Clemens, also a veteran from the Afghanistan conflict.

"I do like working with other combat veterans, I find there's better communication and a little more emotional honesty. especially with other guys who have served," said Clemens.

"Usually with other guys who have been overseas, especially with something like Afghanistan, a lot of the macho BS is gone. We can be very real with each other."

Danielle Leier with Icon Media, the company hired to oversee the new giant screens at Pearson, said Legion's workers were exactly what they were looking for.

"The screens that we have installed in Terminal 1 are so large ... we need someone very strong that is capable of hoisting 200-pound screens," she said.

"We chose Legion because they are very dedicated to their craft. They are good at meeting their deadlines and exceeding their deadlines."


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